Theories and Frameworks Developed in the Laboratory


Our laboratory website contains information on four theoretical lines of work we carry out. These are: 

  • The Personality Systems Framework
  • The Ability Model of Emotional Intelligence
  • The Ability Model of Personal Intelligence
  • Brief Selections on the Influence of Personality Traits on Outcomes

Below, we provide quick overviews of the four areas, each one followed by a link or links to more extensive treatments on this website or on external sites. 

The Personality Systems Framework (PSF)

Some Brief History 

The  personality systems framework  (PSF) is an outline of the study of human personality. It includes offshoots that indicate the position of  personality amidst its neighboring systems such as a person's situations and group memberships, and diagrams of the key, inner parts of personality as well.

The framework has been featured in many important journals of personality psychology and psychology more generally, including the American Psychologist (2008), Psychological Inquiry (1998), and Journal of Research in Personality (2015)--as well as others--often as the lead article. It is also the foundation for the 2018 textbook Personality: A Systems Approach (2nd ed).

Learn More about the Personality Systems Framework

To learn more about the Personality Systems Framework, visit the Personality Systems Framework Page, where these opening remarks are reprinted, along with more about the framework.

The Ability Model of Emotional Intelligence

Some Brief History 

The systematic study of emotional intelligence is often dated to the early 1990s, when a scientific article I wrote along Dr. Peter Salovey suggested that there existed an unrecognized but important human mental ability to reason about emotions and to use emotions to enhance thought. In our 1997 chapter, "What is Emotional Intelligence" (Mayer & Salovey, 1997), we introduced an expanded four-branch model that provided an updated definition and boundary of the problem-solving areas that the intelligence concerned. This model was further updated in 2016.

Learn More about the Ability Model of Emotional Intelligence 

To learn more about the Ability Model of Emotional Intelligence, visit the Emotional Intelligence Overview page.

The Ability Model of Personal Intelligence

Some Brief History 

The systematic study of personal intelligence began with an introductory article in 2008 entitled "Personal Intelligence." Personal intelligence involves the ability to reason about personalities--both one's own and the personalities of others. Over the past decade, we have developed measures of personal intelligence and explored what it predicts. It appears to be a very important quality that many people--but not everyone--possesses.

Personal intelligence is conceptually distinct from emotional intelligence (i.e., there is little overlap in the test questions), but ability-based measures of personal intelligence do correlate with ability-based measures of emotional intelligence. Personal intelligence, measured as a mental ability, makes important predictions of outcomes at school and at work that add incrementally to predictions made by more "thing-focused" intelligences. We address this question in greater detail in recent articles on personal intelligence. To learn more visit the personal intelligence web pages (see below).

Learn More about the Ability Model of Personal Intelligence 

Reprints of many of our key recent articles on personal intelligence can be found on this site. A couple recent articles of importance are Mayer, Panter & Caruso, 2017, and Mayer & Skimmyhorn, 2017 (see also the general publications area on this site, tab above).

To learn more about the theory of personal intelligence, and to see a demonstration test, you also can visit

Finally, additional information about the measures of personal intelligence developed in the laboratory can be found in the Tests & Measures area.

Brief Selections on the Influence of Personality Traits on Outcomes

People often ask how strongly emotional and personal intelligences predict outcomes. To provide an introduction to the issues, I have reproduced two brief selections below. The first is a selection from the Elements of Mental Tests (2nd ed.) on communicating the strength of correlation coefficients. This textbook selection assumes you know that in field of personality and social psychology (a) correlation coefficients are typically used to gauge the strength of relationships between two variables, and that (b) the coefficients range from -1 to 1 (further explanations of the correlation coefficient are readily found online if you are unfamiliar with them). 

The second selection below uses advice from the first to provide a very simple example of the potential strength of personal intelligence in someone's life (the selection is equally applicable to emotional intelligence).

Courtesy of Taylor & Francis Publishing...50 free PDF reprints

Limited Free Reprints of Recent Articles Available from Publishers

Posted 17 June 2020: From Taylor & Francis...50 free PDF reprints of just-published Mayer, J. D. (2019) An integrated approach to personality assessment based on the personality systems framework. Journal of Personality Assessment. Use this link for the PDF:

Posted (approx.) June 2019...From Taylor & Francis Publishing...50 free PDF reprints of the just-published (2018) Employees High in Personal Intelligence Differ From Their Colleagues in Workplace Perceptions and Behavior (Journal of Personality Assessment). Use this link from the publisher: